Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cupcakes from Siem Reap to Cebu



Cupcakes from Siem Reap to Cebu

Women in training at the Blossom centre in Siem Reap. Photo supplied
Women in training at the Blossom centre in Siem Reap. Photo supplied

Cupcakes from Siem Reap to Cebu

Later this year, five Cambodian women who have graduated from the Siem Reap training centre set up by Bloom – makers of what are arguably the country’s most scrumptious cupcakes – will travel to the Philippines to help set up the social enterprise’s first such outfit outside the Kingdom.

“When we opened [in Siem Reap] three years ago, we started with eight girls,” says general manager Melissa Stock. “We’ve since had 42 graduates, and we love knowing that this program is working so well that we can take it over to other countries to empower more women.”

Bloom’s first training centre opened in Phnom Penh six years ago; three years later, the decision was taken to open a similar centre in Siem Reap. (The Siem Reap centre was named Blossom, because another small business in town was already using the name Bloom.)

The concept at Bloom and Blossom is straightforward: to teach young women to bake, design, decorate, make great coffee and run a business – so that they can build a better future for themselves and their families.

“These are girls who don’t have any job skills,” says Stock. “[Our role is] to provide them with career opportunities to survive and support their families, even though they might not have had a formal education.”

Intricate Mehndi henna designs have long been used on hands and feet – and now on sweets. Photo supplied
Intricate Mehndi henna designs have long been used on hands and feet – and now on sweets. Photo supplied

Stock says the five women setting up the new centre in the Philippines will stay in Cebu for several months prior to its March opening; after that they will travel regularly between the two countries.

“It’s amazing because, for several of them, their English skills are so high now that they [are able to] communicate only in English in the Philippines as they teach,” says Stock.

Bloom’s program trains applicants for 12 weeks in baking, sugar decorating and barista skills. They are then hired by Bloom in Phnom Penh or Blossom in Siem Reap, where they get a fair salary, a yearly increase, healthcare and additional skills training – including weekly lessons in English and accounting. All of that helps them to get jobs in the competitive and growing tourism sector, says Stock.

“[It’s] a level of professionalism that would enable them to work in five-star hotels and four- or five-star cafes as baristas,” she says.

Among the more recent skills learned is that of Mehndi, a regional variation of henna design. That stemmed from a visit to Siem Reap last year by Mehndi practitioner Sumita Batra, who counts stars such as Madonna as clients.

The intricate henna designs are commonly used for women’s hands and feet at wedding celebrations in India, but the team decided to adapt it to cake art – using their sugar decoration skills to design a new line of cookies and cakes. This clever mix of ancient and modern will likely prove as popular in the Philippines as it has in Cambodia.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen: Full country reopening to be decided in two weeks

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced that if the Covid-19 situation remains stable for 15 consecutive days from the end of the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, Cambodia will reopen fully, albeit in the context of Covid-19 whereby people have to adjust their lives to

  • Cambodia sets new Covid-19 quarantine rules

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • Phnom Penh governor: Show Covid-19 vaccination cards, or else

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng late on October 5 issued a directive requiring all people aged 18 and over and the parents of children aged 6-17 to produce Covid-19 vaccination cards when entering schools, markets, malls, marts, eateries and other business establishments that have been permitted

  • Cambodia seeks probe into 'false reports' on Hun Sen's alleged Cypriot passport

    Minister of Justice Koeut Rith on September 6 wrote a letter to his Cypriot counterpart Stephie Dracos requesting cooperation in investigating and providing the truth in relation to the "exaggerative and false allegations" that Prime Minister Hun Sen holds a Cypriot passport. In his letter, the

  • 'Pandora Papers' expose leaders' offshore millions

    More than a dozen heads of state and government, from Jordan to Azerbaijan, Kenya and the Czech Republic, have used offshore tax havens to hide assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars, according to a far-reaching new investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (